Monday, November 25, 2013

Already a month and still dry!!

21:00, 21 Nov, 2013 Still on the hard but counting…..

Another long, hot grueling week but we see the end of the tunnel, finally. The engine has been tested and started with the first push. We love this engine!!!!The shaft and seals are re-assembled and the anti-fouling has been applied. My hands are stained several interesting colours. Gotta wash dishes over the next few days if I want to get them clean again.

Old and new dripless shaft seal bellows.

Second coat of mystery anti-fouling. Bought cheap in an unmarked can but looks good and smells powerful. We'll see if it was such a good deal in a month or so. 

We are way past our original splash date but, with the delays we have been able to get a lot of other items crossed off the “to do” list, and quite a few that were never on the list to begin with. We are now waiting to hear back from Guido, a welder from Linton, who we hope will be able to complete the last job, replacing the compression post. If all goes as planned we will be in the water by mid next week and out of here shortly thereafter. It is costing us a bundle to be on the hard. We just got our last bill and we are looking at over $1600 for the past month, ouch!! Tomorrow we will give Gosling another once over beauty treatment to get her ready for departure.

Since my last input some of our partner boats have arrived. Optical Illusion is here and Rio Nimpkish arrived yesterday. Optical Illusion is on the hard for the next week or 2 with an unexpected engine rebuild. One of his cylinders carboned up and the piston jammed. Luckily we have an excellent mechanic in Greg. The parts arrived yesterday from Miami and the rebuild has begun. While he is waiting we have been attending to some blister issues on his hull. Our last boat, Antares , had a similar problem and I got lots of experience dealing with those. With all of the components readily available it has been one of the easier jobs to tackle.

Volvo in pieces. Our engine would take up most of this space.
The weather really is changing for the better. We have had fewer thunderstorms in the past 2 weeks and only a few showers. That has been beneficial for those of us doing paintwork but it has also meant really hot temps during the day. Fran has been going for walks with a group and has gotten some really good nature shots with her new camera.
Green Parrot

 1:00 following night.

Another hot and busy day. Actually got into some cabinet work today, and a perfect example of how one job leads to another on a boat: 2 years ago we had a problem with the overboard discharge hand pump for the holding tank. The repair was solid but temporary. Today while wandering around I found a similar pump with the part I needed to repair ours. Dis-assembling that one required a cabinet to be removed and it needed some TLC. The pump is back in place and the cabinet will be better than new by tomorrow afternoon.

Great news today! Guido has called back and will be able to do our compression post Monday or Tuesday. Things are finally looking very positive.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Its hard to be on the hard

21:00, Friday, 8 Nov, 2013 Still on the hard.

We certainly didn’t expect to be writing this in the same location as last week but, with a boat, you have to expect the unexpected….

The re-installation of the shaft went well and we had it buttoned down within an hour of starting but as we were re-connecting the dripless shaft seal we realized that the bellows did not compress the way it is supposed to. A call to the company clarified the problem: the item has a 6-year lifespan. We have owned Gosling for 6 and who knows when it was last replaced. Getting parts delivered to Panama can be an onerous prospect but one of the guys on a neigbouring boat recommended a call to another cruiser who was arriving next week. Lucky for us they agreed and the part will arrive here next Wednesday. Another example of how the cruising community works together.

With the prospect of another week on the hard Fran and I had to reconsider our plans. Now that we are at least a week later than planned we may miss Cartagena altogether but there is a silver lining to that cloud. Most of our Canadian cruising friends will be back soon and we may all be in the San Blas Islands for Christmas. We have been advised that there is a welder and canvas/sail repair shop in Puerto Linton, on the way to the San Blas. We may stop in there and get the final items done that we were planning to get done in Cartagena.

We haven’t had time to be idle and have progressed lot of jobs on our to-do list. Most of the running rigging is done, the mizzen sail and stack-packs are up, all of the thru-hulls have been serviced, the new AIS radio and new fans installed, a few deck fittings re-bedded and today we bought and installed a humungous 80 lb Bugel (Wasi) anchor to replace one of the 60 lb CQR anchors that we have been having issues with on sandy bottoms. Also, today I wet sanded the hull in preparation for a new coat of anti-fouling paint. By the end of the job I was being called the Blue Man from all the blue sanding residue.
A messy job but Fran doesn't want to do it!
She'd rather do the shiny bits

Wednesday was an excursion to Panama City to stock up on items not available on this side. The store of choice (along with 2 marine stores and a big grocery store) was Price Mart, a COSTCO style store. Another $500 + day!! Our shopping list was pared down considerably but there are still a few items that elude us like short hacksaw blades, mini tubes of grease, whipping twine, coriander seeds, an SAE ¾ in wrench, etc. Provisioning for 6 months can be a chore. We won’t be anywhere near big box stores and specialty marine stores  for months if at all.

Yesterday, Bill and his nephew, Linden, (Optical Illusion) arrived. It is nice to see some of our old sailing buddies beginning to show up. Janet and her niece will arrive next week with Tom and Shirley (Rio Nimpkish) following a few days later.

The weather continues to be hot and muggy. The rain has been much less frequent this week and appears to have slipped inland. Perhaps we are at the change of the annual weather pattern here. We were treated to a rare spectacle the other day with a set of twisters over the landmass south of us. Not sure if they were over land or over Lake Gatun but they lasted about 10 minutes.
                                                                      Funnel cloud

19:30, Sunday, 10 Nov 2013 Still on the hard.

Another thunderstorm is brewing and I am on the bow of the boat watching the lightning pass to the south of us. So far we have been spared and the storm seems to have bypassed us but yesterday’s storm sat over us for about 2 hours with driving rain and lightning.

It has been another hot and muggy day. The prep work for the anti-fouling paint is almost complete. It has been a good thing to have the extra time to some of the non-essentials this time around. All of the thru-hull outlets have been faired and little dings filled in. This week we have to get some barrier coat to prep a few spots and we’ll be ready for the final anti-fouling application. It’ll be nice to be afloat again. Fran spent the afternoon with a ladies group doing whatever ladies groups do. She is now in the after cabin practicing on her new guitar. Price Mart had the ideal one for her, compact and easy to store on the boat. She took up the guitar while we were at our friends’ place in Kelowna, both of which play and serenade each other. Now, if I could only get the gumption to learn the harmonica or the Irish flute, both of which have been aboard, somewhere, for the past 6 years…

Looks like the storm is either doubling back or another is forming to windward of us. Whatever the case we should get a downpour soon. More in a week or so and, hopefully, afloat.
Another of Fran's bird shots, this one a Common Black Hawk.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Another adventure begins

2215, 30 Oct 2013, High and Dry in the work-yard at Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

All is still and quiet. The cruising Yahoos haven’t arrived yet so there are only quiet people working on their boats during the day and they are as tired as we are by now, and honoring the cruisers’ lights out time of 21:00 (OK more like the senior’s bedtime). The howler monkeys have gone to bed as have the ants that we have been observing carrying bits of vegetation back to their nest some 2-3 miles away. There was a thunderstorm earlier that washed over the marina but it was only a minor event compared to some we have experienced since we arrived. Everyone can relate to the bone shaking, toss you out of your bed thunderstorms, right? Well, try experiencing a tropical storm in a boat on sticks. They even set off car alarms here…. Last night it rained so hard that I was able to take a shower on deck, shampoo and all. It is also a bit cooler at this time of the evening. We are in the shelter of a line of jungle between us and the ocean so we hardly get any breeze here and it gets very hot by mid-day. Thankfully, the pool is a bit cooler than the ambient air temperature and affords some measure of refreshment. Just last week we were commenting that we weren’t drinking very much water, well that has changed. At times it seems you can’t get enough. Then there’s happy hour. You’d be surprised how good a cold Panamanian beer can be!!

We arrived early Friday morning after a red-eye flight from San Francisco. We had departed from Kelowna where we have left our truck, trailer and Rosie with very good friends for the season. Rosie will be able to experience a real winter there. They actually get snow, and lots of it. After arriving and our way from the airport we did a re-provisioning grocery stop to re-equip galley with most of the basics that we had given away last April to reduce the chance of any bug infestations during our absence. Seems to have worked this time. Not a bug to be seen onboard – so far.

We arrived at the marina to find Gosling already in the work area so we were able to move in right away, unpack our bags and begin setting up. We were pleasantly surprised to find the interior in very good shape. The rented de-humidifiers had done their job and the mold was very minor. The outer parts were another story and took the better part of Saturday to scrub and wash down most surfaces and get Gosling looking like when we left her. Since then it has been one task after another with a long list yet to do.
High and dry

One of our major concerns is the state of the batteries. On our arrival, one of the work-yard hands, who was checking the boat in our absence, mentioned that the batteries were way down. Kinda late to tell us that, huh?? With the assistance of a mechanic we have been repeatedly socking the batteries with a 40-amp charge over the past few days and it seems to be working, however, once we are in the water we will be able to finally determine if we have to replace them before we leave. That would be another very expensive shopping trip!!

We have also been working on a cutlass bearing change. That is a rubber coated shaft guide just forward of the propeller that supports the shaft as it exits the hull. They are not easy to replace but, again, with the mechanic’s assistance to dismantle the shaft I was able to saw through the hardened bronze sleeve over the past 2 days and late this afternoon I claimed victory. Once that is replaced and the shaft re-installed and a few more thru-hulls serviced we will be able to go back in the water where Gosling belongs.
New cutlass bearing waiting for the shaft

We are the only ones here from our sailing group. Optical Illusion is at the dock looking forlorn and Rio Nimpkish and Warren Peace are still in the yard until their owners arrive. There are people arriving daily as the cruising season picks up. It is truly an international gathering at the moment. There is almost an equal representation of French, German American, Italian and Canadians here at the moment.

20:00 2 Nov 2013 Still on the hard.

We are actually progressing but it is in slow time. Today I can claim that all the thru-hulls are serviced and working fine. I am convinced that heat and humidity of the summers here cause any lubrication to harden to the point of seizing the action. We didn’t have this problem last year when Gosling spent the summer in the water.

Tomorrow the mechanic should be back to re-assemble the shaft, the last item to make us sea-worthy again, however, a Panamanian holiday began today thru Tuesday so it looks like we won’t be splashing until the end of next week. There are lots more tasks to do, including re-rigging and installing some of the new items we brought with us. The new VHF radio will take up at least an entire day but that will be a treat compared to the thru-hulls where you have to be a contortionist to reach and work on them and you go through rolls of paper towel wiping the puddles of sweat.

We have been amazed at some of the wonders of nature around us. The ant highway, mentioned above, is truly fascinating. Fran has taken a video of them. Each time we go by we stop for a few minutes to observe them. We are amazed at the immense amount if vegetation they carry back to the nest, the way they seem to disappear at night and when it begins to rain. They must be religious, and knew it was a holy day today as there was very little ant traffic and, the few stragglers we did see, must have been on detention… Fran has also taken some great photos of birds including an oriole, a few hawks and some great storm scenes.

Fran's garden. Note the wild orchid and the sprouts. The other is mint. It will be a while before we do mojitos.

Storm coming....